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EL tech company aims to spread its wings into Africa

New chair feels top manufacturer can do better in the jobs stakes TED KEENAN – BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT When Yekani Manufacturing (YM), the East London Industrial Development Zone’s (ELIDZ) technology-linked manufacturer, was looking for a chairperson, chief executive Siphiwe Cele wanted someone who knew his or her way around a boardroom rather than a factory floor, and who could sell the company at decision-maker level. Her choice for the job was Zolile Tini. He had chaired the IDZ for nine years,…

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New chair feels top manufacturer can do better in the jobs stakes

TED KEENAN – BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT

When Yekani Manufacturing (YM), the East London Industrial Development Zone’s (ELIDZ) technology-linked manufacturer, was looking for a chairperson, chief executive Siphiwe Cele wanted someone who knew his or her way around a boardroom rather than a factory floor, and who could sell the company at decision-maker level.

Her choice for the job was Zolile Tini. He had chaired the IDZ for nine years, was a senior figure and president of Border-Kei Chamber of Business and is a successful businessman in his own right. Tini was also well connected to many sectors of government and private enterprise.

“YM, which cost R1bn, has the tech savvy it needs, so I see my role well away from the manufacturing side and into the boardrooms of the decision-makers with the purchasing power. This is a world-class manufacturing plant and we need to get that fact out there. We cannot be a best kept secret, even from East Londoners.” YM’s product range extends to innovative technology products for clients in the automotive, defence, aerospace/aviation industries as well as a portfolio of products that includes education tablets and laptops, and mobile handsets and laptops.

Tini sees job creation as one of his many roles. “There are various statistics out there as to how many young people simply cannot find work. I think the most accurate one is that 76% of the Eastern Cape youth.

“They are desperate for work, but cannot find it because there are no entry-level jobs. It cannot continue, especially when one realises that this plant now employs 446 people, which is fine, except that it is designed to employ over a thousand, and with government support that will happen.” Talk of upskilling learners, giving them tablets and access to technology, readying them for the 4th Industrial Revolution, now needs action. Eastern Cape and national government can assist. In East London the IDZ has the manufacturing capacity to create work, but it needs support.

“We need to get our metro and the province behind us, and to achieve that we need a change of buying patterns. Buy local must be the message.” YM has, said Tini, excellent training facilities. It recently employed 100 technical students on a short-term contract, some of them electrical engineers, from East London’s two job creation centres, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and Technical and Vocational Education and Training. “Some will be joining us, and the others can at least be assured that when they apply for a job and get hit with the question about experience, they can answer that they have worked on the shop floor.

Tini said that getting YM up to full manufacturing speed should be a short process, provided SA copied China’s approach with technology companies. “Huawei is an excellent example of how China turned a promising brand into an international leader by assisting it over the early barriers. “The same has to happen in SA. It is essential that we look after our own first, get our manufacturers to peak productivity, with a momentum that will enable it to explore markets outside SA: North up into Africa and then overseas. We have an excellent product and now we need orders to match it.”

YM’s vision is to be Africa’s leading international technology manufacturing innovator positioned to take of advantage of disruption, and to cause it.

 

SA gets bite of its own Apple

SA gets bite of its own Apple Mthokozisi Dube – IN THE world of technology, China boasts of Huawei, Korea glows in Sam- sung and the US has the Apple. South Africa, and all other African countries, have been dark horses in technology, importing useful day-to- day gadgets from abroad. However, a local company, Yekani Manufacturing, is ready to claim the country and continent’s rightful place in international standards in technology. The company launched its R1 billion factory, covering 28…

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SA gets bite of its own Apple

Mthokozisi Dube – IN THE world of technology, China boasts of Huawei, Korea glows in Sam- sung and the US has the Apple.

South Africa, and all other African countries, have been dark horses in technology, importing useful day-to- day gadgets from abroad. However, a local company, Yekani Manufacturing, is ready to claim the country and continent’s rightful place in international standards in technology.

The company launched its R1 billion factory, covering 28 000m², in East London, where it is producing tablets, laptops and smartphones.“This is the only factory of its size in Africa with the kind of technology we’ve deployed. We are able to manufacture anything technology or electronics,” said the company’s group chief executive, Siphiwe Cele.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed inclusive growth, transformation and job creation at the centre of the government’s agenda and the Yekani boss said they were heeding that call.

Of its 456 employees, 90% of the company’s workforce is black females averaging age 25.As the country moves to transform learning and teaching through technology, Cele said they had the capacity to make devices such as tablets an everyday part of South African classrooms.

In fact, the company, turned manufacturer of education tablets used by schools in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
“These are aligned with their curriculum requirements. We load a full curriculum on the tablet without it crushing. It is also water resistant and when one drops it, for a distance of 1.4 metres it doesn’t break,” he said.

Cele added that with the support of government they could play a role as job creators and contributors to GDP and tax income of the country. “If government’s intention is to create jobs, it’s important to support local businesses like Yekani instead of importing things that we can manufacture locally,” he said. According to Cele, the company can produce 400 000 tablets a month, which could potentially create 50 additional jobs.

“We could potentially create 1 800 more jobs. The factory exists and it has state-of-the-art equipment.” Cele was aware that the country’s switch from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television technology had been on the back foot for years, plagued by controversies that have further bogged down the process.

In 2015, a R4.3bn tender was awarded to 26 firms to produce the set-top- boxes (STBs) for digital migration. Cele added that Yekani had the capacity to manufacture 200 000 STBs per month. The group laid off 50 people recently because there were no orders. “It’s important for government to understand they can’t win the war against unemployment alone and we are ready to play our part as business,” he said.

Yekani has previously made Samsung TV sets and PVR decoders for MultiChoice.

Smart cash on bots taking your bets

Fast-changing technology to transform world of gambling Guy Rogers Robotic croupiers, gambling with cryptocurrency and using artificial intelligence to spot punters with a problem – those are some of the predictions for the future as the fourth industrial revolution collides with the gaming industry. Super-digital disrupters will likely make gaming more popular but the advent of robots will up the stakes and staff will to be retrained to meet the needs of the new-look gaming industry. Speaking at the 15th…

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  • Fast-changing technology to transform world of gambling

Guy Rogers

Robotic croupiers, gambling with cryptocurrency and using artificial intelligence to spot punters with a problem – those are some of the predictions for the future as the fourth industrial revolution collides with the gaming industry.

Super-digital disrupters will likely make gaming more popular but the advent of robots will up the stakes and staff will to be retrained to meet the needs of the new-look gaming industry.

Speaking at the 15th Gaming Regulators Africa Forum conference at the Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth on Monday, Yekani Manufacturing CEO Siphiwe Cele said electronic hosts would be a feature of gambling in coming decades. “For example, a punter will enter a casino and enable an e-host on his phone and thereafter the host will welcome him and stay engaged with him through his visit, supplying him with refreshments, information on different machines and games and using artificial intelligence to design a customised gaming experience for him.”

The attraction of cryptocurrencies for gamblers was that they could access funds online and deposit and withdraw them with minimal fees. “Therefore allowing the use of cryptocurrencies in gambling games will increase the popularity of the casino industry,” Cele said.

Artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to spot potential gambling addicts, he said.  “AI software can identify players who are inclined to develop gambling problems, notify them and prevent the negative consequences in due time, which would greatly benefit the gambling industry.”

AI could be used for predictive maintenance of gaming equipment and avoiding unwarranted down times. While online gambling was illegal in South Africa with the exception of sport betting, overseas it had expanded in tandem with the fourth industrial revolution, Cele said.

It was anticipated that in 2020 online gambling revenue generated globally would grow to almost $60bn (about R924bn) in 2020.

Linked to online gambling, virtual reality would deliver online punters the full monty. “They will be able to immerse themselves into their casino … walk around, light up a cigar. Gambling providers invest in the development of virtual reality technology because they see it as an opportunity to attract younger generation who are not as likely to play gambling games.” Cele said despite these benefits, the fourth industrial revolution would pose challenges for the gambling industry. “Job losses will result with the replacement of dealers and hosts with robots,” he said.

This will require an up-skilling programme for current staff … There will eb a need for secure cyber security. “Lastly, the gambling will require highly skilled employees in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” Cele said that to capitalise on the fourth industrial revolution and the gambling industry in terms of revenue and jobs, the government should help fund tech innovators. “We should develop our own virtual reality devices – by Africans, for Africans.”

The government should also support SA-designed indigenous gambling games and manufacturers such as Yekani, which had the competence to produce gambling equipment.

Welcoming the conference delegates – which included representatives from several African countries – Eastern Cape economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said the legislation of gambling in SA in 1994 had resulted in number of benefits. It had given consumers an additional form of recreation, largely eradicated the illegal gambling industry, generated considerable tax revenue and funded infrastructure, including roads and hotels, he said.

It was estimated that the provincial economy had grown by R985m over the past five years as a result of the gambling industry. “It is still our fervent belief that through the infusion of the new fourth industrial revolution and optimal regulation, a legalised gambling industry could be a game-changer.”

Eastern Cape Gambling Board deputy chair Odwa Mtati said while he agreed with much of what Cele has said, the social impact of unrestricted online gambling had to be taken into account and this was one of the reasons why the government had not yet legalised it.

R1-Billion-worth Yekani Smart Factory…

R1-Billion-worth Yekani Smart Factory revitalises Eastern Cape manufacturing and creates jobs EASTERN CAPE – Yekani Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd. – an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company – officially launched a R1- Factory Billion-worth Smart in East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) on Tuesday, 05 June 2018. The funding for this project was a concerted effort from various stakeholders that included the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), private financial institutions and a significant portion of this coming from Yekani’s coffers.…

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R1-Billion-worth Yekani Smart Factory revitalises Eastern Cape manufacturing and creates jobs

EASTERN CAPE – Yekani Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd. – an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company – officially launched a R1- Factory Billion-worth Smart in East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) on Tuesday, 05 June 2018. The funding for this project was a concerted effort from various stakeholders that included the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), private financial institutions and a significant portion of this coming from Yekani’s coffers.

This world-class, technologically advanced facility is aimed at pushing the limits of technology innovation and is an investment that is estimated to create approximately 1 000 jobs, not only for the East London community, but also for the much-needed employment boost in the province.

The 100% Black-owned Electronics Contract Manufacture and ICT giant has already heeded the call made by the President of South Africa: His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa in his maiden State of the Nation address to re-industrialise intermediate cities and stimulate manufacturing in the country.

The 28 000m² state-of-the-art Smart Factory resides within a customs’ controlled area at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) – a short five (5)-minutes from the East London Airport and 10-minutes from the East London Port.

“Our Technologically advanced facility is geared to manufacturing innovative technology products for clients in the Automotive, Defence, Aerospace/Aviation industries as well as consumers,” said Dr Siphiwe Cele – Yekani Group CEO. “We want the world to know that Africans are capable of pioneering new technology and at Yekani – we have this belief that our strength lies within our biggest asset – our people.”

 The timing of this event is very opportune – Youth Month allows Yekani to re-affirm its commitment to investing in the youth. Dr Cele emphasizes: “Our new home is a stronghold where young people’s brilliance will be nurtured with an ultimate objective of forming a pool of entrepreneurs within this group.”

Furthermore, President Ramaphosa also emphasized in his address that the decline over many years of our manufacturing capacity had deeply affected employment and exports – that South Africa would seek to re-industrialise on a scale that draws millions of job seekers into the economy.

The increased operational capability of the Yekani Manufacturing smart factory requires many skilled and trained people, ensuring the employment and skill of our people. Yekani Manufacturing and Yekani Technology – the privately-owned companies that form part of the Yekani Group – a holding company incorporated in 1998; these companies boast an executive management team with 30 years’ experience spanning multiple sectors.

The company’s flagship brand is YEKANI and Trust in the YEKANI brand in the ICT in education industry is reflected in the increasing demand for YEKANI-branded consumer tablets and laptops. YEKANI portfolio of product categories ranges from education 2-in-1 tablets and laptops to consumer products, such as mobile handsets and laptops.

One of the most pressing challenges facing South Africa today is the quality of education. Yekani Technology, with the help of its sister company Yekani Manufacturing, manufactures and supplies devices purpose built for education, aimed at enhancing the 21st century classroom experience for both teachers and students, with the goal of improving the standard of education throughout South Africa.

Dr Cele explains: “Two years ago, the Department of Education in Gauteng introduced a five-year e-learning paperless classroom initiative in township schools and those with 100 percent pass rate in last year’s matric finals received brand new tablets. The Department of Education in Gauteng led by the MEC of Education, Panyaza Lesufi entered into a partnership with one of Yekani’s local resellers to provide these tablets to the selected township-based schools.

“As Yekani, we are happy to have played our part in this education initiative – a project aimed at improving learning for students by providing digital textbooks and past papers.”

The launch of this Smart Factory allows Yekani to lead the way in technology innovation and to help Africa secure its rightful place among global technology leaders. “We believe that this new home will allow us to showcase our capability, flexibility, expertise and quality as well as contribution to the development of the manufacturing industry, not only in the country but also in the African continent,” concluded Dr Cele.

 

 

About: THE YEKANI STORY

Yekani Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd. (“Yekani”) – a 100% Black-owned electronics contract manufacturer and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) company – is an identifier of innovation opportunities and an enabler. Yekani Manufacturing and Yekani Technology are privately owned companies that form part of the Yekani Group – a holding company incorporated in 1998. These entities boast an executive management team with 30 years’ experience spanning multiple sectors.

The company’s new home located in the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) in East London – is a R1-billion-worth world-class Smart Factory- able to create new value to achieve advantage over our competitors. This technologically advanced facility is geared towards manufacturing innovative technology products for clients in the consumer, automotive, defence and aerospace industries. Yekani is about growth through commitment to its greatest strength that lies within – its biggest asset – its people.

Two months to the new Yekani…

Two months to the new Yekani Manufacturing smart factory launch In less than two months, Yekani will launch its new world-class smart factory at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ). The facility is intended to herald a new era for the company as it prepares to accelerate innovation in its manufacturing processes and boost productivity. The ambitious project commenced ten months ago will officially be launched on the 5th June 2018, a year after its commissioning. (Picture taken July…

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Two months to the new Yekani Manufacturing smart factory launch

In less than two months, Yekani will launch its new world-class smart factory at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ). The facility is intended to herald a new era for the company as it prepares to accelerate innovation in its manufacturing processes and boost productivity.

The ambitious project commenced ten months ago will officially be launched on the 5th June 2018, a year after its commissioning.

(Picture taken July 2017)

The WHBO team working on the project have dubbed it the miracle project because they did not believe that it would be possible to complete construction of the 28, 000 sqm facility within the twelve months deadline they had been given. Yekani Manufacturing’s current Wilsonia factory is a third of the size of the new ELIDZ factory.

With the complete structure now in place and the interior of the factory still be completed, the June 5th deadline is sure to be met.

(Picture taken October 2017)

The new facility will be kitted with 11 new state-of-the- art SMT machines resulting in a of Yekani Manufacturing’s capacity.

(Picture taken April 2018)

We cannot wait to see what the final facility will look it. I guess we will have to wait for the 5th June 2018.

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